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What is the Body of Christ?

According to the New Testament revelation, the Body of Christ is not an allegory or symbol. Rather, as the practical expression of Christ on the earth today, it is a reality. We need a spirit of wisdom and revelation to see this reality (Eph. 1:17).

Of all the New Testament writers, only Paul speaks of the Body of Christ. Before Paul’s conversion, he persecuted the believers. But the Lord Jesus revealed Himself to Paul in a particular way. One day, as Paul journeyed to Damascus “breathing threatening and murder against the disciples of the Lord” (Acts 9:1), a light from heaven flashed around him. The Lord Jesus said to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” When Paul asked who the Lord was, the Lord answered, “I am Jesus, whom you persecute” (vv. 2-5). Paul thought he was persecuting Christians on earth. Yet the Lord Jesus told Paul that he was in fact persecuting Him. The Lord Jesus considered His believers to be a part of Himself. To mistreat them was to mistreat Him. The revelation Paul received that day, and which permeated his ministry afterwards, was that these Christians were intrinsically joined to the resurrected Christ. Paul saw the union in the divine life between Christ and His believers. He realized that Christ, the Head, and Christ’s believers, His Body, comprised one living entity in this universe.

This one Body is joined to Christ in the divine life and expresses the Head, Christ.

Paul said that God gave Christ “to be Head over all things to the church, which is His Body, the fullness of the One who fills all in all” (Eph. 1:22-23). If the church is only the assembly of the believers who have no intrinsic life relationship with one another, it may be like a club or organization. The church, however, is not merely the assembly of God’s called-out ones. It is the Body of Christ—not a lifeless organization but a living organism whose members possess and share the divine life with the Head, Christ, and one another. The members, all of the believers in Christ, are many yet one Body (1 Cor. 12:12). This one Body is joined to Christ in the divine life and expresses the Head, Christ.

In 1 Corinthians Paul says, “In one Spirit we were all baptized into one Body” (12:13), showing that baptism is the unique way for us to enter into the Body of Christ. We, the believers of Christ, are baptized into the Body to be His members. Now we must grow in the life of Christ in all things so the Body may grow and be built up (Eph. 4:15-16). As His Body, we must arrive at the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (v. 13) so our Head, Christ, may be fully expressed in this universe.

For further reading on this subject, please see The Body of Christ and The Conclusion of the New Testament, messages 210-212, by Witness Lee, published by Living Stream Ministry.

From Issue No. 45, January 2002

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